14 December 2021

A City for All – Including Minorities in City-Planning for Safer Communities

On December 14, researchers, think tankers, experts from international organizations and locally involved people discussed urban inequalities and social inclusion in the informal atmosphere of a lunch break. Due to the pandemic, the event took place online.

About the topic


Modern city-planning is usually a reflection of politics and political orientation. History is not negligible in a city’s architecture, modern planning policies embody actual views and priorities, but also neglect important issues. The Covid-19 crisis has reflected huge disparities in wealthy Western cities, not only due to the sanitary situation, but also to long standing inequalities between urban neighbourhoods. Also, social groups historically regroup in city areas and they become more and more marginalized. As part of the 2030 Agenda, sustainability in urban planning is key for a more equitable city planning and also, for reducing inequalities and building community resilience. By including minorities in urban areas, polarization in cities could also be avoided and security issues, such as violence, extremism or even radicalization could be reduced. 


Which actions have been taken to reduce social and urban inequalities in Western cities? Which innovative approaches have been undertaken regarding spatial planning? How could local actions be brought to a government level? And international level? 


It is to discuss these essential questions, find solutions and exchange viewpoints that the Think Tank Hub Geneva invited to its table policy, research, urban experts and professionals. The event had different parts, including two breakout sessions where participants were split into bilateral discussions. By doing so, they were able to meet personally with one of the participants to discuss the questions that were submitted to them. Back in the main room, everyone was able to share their thoughts with the rest of the participants. 


Dr. Donagh Horgan

Project Manager & Researcher at the Institute for Future Cities (UK)

Virgínia Brás Gomes

Senior Social Policy Adviser in the Ministry of Employment, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal

Dr. Robert Rogerson

Academic Director at the Institute for Future Cities (UK)

Sena Segbedzi

Coordinator of the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth

Antonin Calderon

Socio-economist at the Chambre de l'économie sociale et solidaire - APRÈS-GE

Claire Logoz

Architect, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

Esaie Saighi

Responsible for housing in La Clusaz (FR)

Christopher Tan

Architect, Member of the committee of the Maison de l'Architecture de Genève


Driving questions :

1. What in your experience are the main drivers of urban inequality, and how have these been made better or worse by the pandemic?
2. What barriers exist to citizen participation in planning, and inclusion in decision-around urban governance?


  • Due to the pandemic, people try to move to rural areas, but problems previously contained in cities spread to peri-urban areas
  • Young people tend to move to mid-sized cities in order to avoid high prices in metropolitan areas 
  • The Covid pandemic created a new type of inequality, with some privileged groups having the ability to move, creating a fiscal deficit in cities. Communities that can’t move are impacted by this deficit
  • Social capital growth is impacted, people who move don’t spread social capital to communities who stay in a city
  • Cities became frontline actors in terms of planning and rights implementation
  • Time and economic resources should be given to those who participate in city-planning
  • People’s financial situation influence on a city’s architecture

Ideas for policy recommendations :


  • Lower inequalities and increase participation in the urban ecosystem by proposing very concrete participation such as housing cooperatives and by giving economic resources to people willing to participate
  • Bring local governments to an international level where the decision making is done 
  • Use experimental cities to push society to take risks at a local level
  • Need of trust and transparency in urban governance, citizens need to understand how a city administration works
  • Dialogue should be fostered between different actors, such as mayors or government leaders
  • Citizen participation should be taken into account for bigger decisions 
  • Design processes for people where they can be creative